As a magician in the Philippines performing for family audiences, I’m not exactly your kind of applause guru. Heaven knows the number of times I tried my hardest best to perform well. Yet, many of my performances only harvested the scantiest rounds of applause.
Still, my clueless state of mind on the subject of getting applause does not prevent me from teaching you the ancient secrets of applause-getting techniques. I have divulged these secrets only to select magicians in the Philippines.
You may not be a magician, but I’m sure these tips will serve you in good stead in your quest for more ovations. Study and master them at your own risk.
1. Take a bow. If your act sucks, practice your bow. Aspire to have one that is elegant and poised in the midst of audience apathy. Bow with flair, finesse and panache. Most apathetic audiences, by force of habit or by simple courtesy, will applaud a performer who has a nice bow. A bow signals the end of a performance. Many people are willing to clap their hands just to be done with a lousy performer.
2. Strike an applause stance. After you produce your miracle (even if it doesn’t look like one), plaster a big grin on your face, place one foot forward and spread your arms wide. Hold that pose, and don’t move until people get the idea they are supposed to applaud.
3. Scream, “Palakpak!”. Palakpak is Tagalog for “Clap your hands!” You can’t get any subtler than that. Bully the audience into clapping. Use a booming voice to do that. Most people who watch magic shows, or any form of live entertainment, are easily cowered by a performer’s histrionics on stage.
4. Use an Applause Card. You can buy this from magic dealers. It is a card emblazoned with the word Applause, which you show to the audience every time you need them to clap. When you get only weak applause, you can turn the card over and show another word that says, Louder. Very nifty. It always takes care of the applause drought in your show.
5. Say something clever. People are so awed by intelligence that when you say something clever, they will automatically clap their hands.
Here’s an example of a clever saying: “The subject of the constitutional amendment reconciles the previously abrogated treaty on the proposition, whereas the inestimable spirit of the democratic process overcomes the whole of the constituents, in part of the entire elements comprising it, as against the fragmentation of the political contour. Therefore, this unequivocal stance renders the meaning lucidly clear for everyone to understand.”
This is a surefire applause-getter. One woman who was told this saying in 1992 hasn’t stopped clapping her hands inside her ward until now.
6. Drop a laugh line. Audiences love to laugh. If you can tell a joke that makes them roll in the aisles, they will give you a vigorous applause—even before they have picked themselves up from the aisles.
7. Do something strange. Twist your arm 180 degrees. Accompany it with the crackling sound of breaking bones, and you are guaranteed a nice round of applause.
8. Perform something difficult. Stand on your head and juggle 12 knives with your hands while bouncing two giant porcelain jars with your feet. People who can do that usually get not only an enthusiastic round of applause but also a standing ovation.
9. Perform an amazing magic trick or illusion. Float a lady up to the auditorium rafters, cut her in half, vanish her and turn her into an elephant. All this while you are both suspended up high in the air. No audience can resist clapping their hands when watching such magical spectacle.
So there. Nine easy ways to get applause.